Robert Reich: The requirement that everyone purchase health insurance, or pay a fine doesn’t appeal to many Americans. They don’t like the government telling them they have to buy something. But the healthcare system can’t work without this mandate. Only if everyone buys insurance can insurers afford to cover people with preexisting conditions, or pay the costs of catastrophic diseases.
Robert Reich: If successful—either in Congress or in the courts—a Republican victory could turn into a Phyrric one by opening the way to the alternative model, based on the system Americans seem to prefer: payroll taxes and public insurance.
Robert Reich: It’s not nearly as momentous as the passage of Medicare in 1965 and won’t fundamentally alter how Americans think about social safety nets. But the likely passage of Obama’s health care reform bill is the biggest thing Congress has done in decades, and has enormous political significance for the future.
Wendy Block: My criticism of Blue Shield (substitute Blue Cross or Aetna or…) is that the medical experts who know and have treated me for many years, got disgusted and finally left. My HMO doc gives me normal prescriptions and orders routine lab tests. But often, normal isn’t enough.
Wrap these reforms together — a public option open to everyone (allow states to opt out of this if they dare), Medicare-negotiated drug benefits, no 12-year monopoly for new drugs, and a major squeeze on Medicare reimbursements for doctors — and have CBO score the savings. I guarantee you, the number will be large. Then you should dare anyone, Democrat or Republican, to vote against saving Americans so much money in years ahead.
But if Obama doesn’t weigh in forcefully and say “no” to the hush money for Big Pharma, big insurance, and the AMA, America’s middle class will get walloped. And if the walloping starts before 2012, Sarah Palin or some other right wing-nut populist will wallop Obama.
So, insurance companies, we’ve got news for you. We’re going to make sure Americans have the freedom to choose a public insurance option that’s cheaper and better, and you’re going to have to work hard to keep them your customers.
The public doesn’t know what’s going on because the national media would rather report on the sexual escapades of famous people or social trends or high finance (a recent Pew study of economic reporting shows the vast majority of stories about the Great Recession have focused on Wall Street rather than Main Street).
Big Pharma and Big Insurance hate the public insurance option even more than they hate big Medicare discounts. And although the President has sounded as if he would welcome it, political operatives in the White House have quietly reassured the industries that it won’t be included in the final bill.
The best way to give Blue Dogs cover is for the President to explain clearly and boldly why the public option is essential to health care reform, and why he’s ready to veto any bill that doesn’t include it.
Why has it come down to these six? Who anointed them? Apparently, the White House. At least that’s what I’m repeatedly being told by sources both on the Hill and in the Administration.
The President’s centeredness, calm, and dignity inspire trust but also suggest a certain lack of combativeness, a reluctance to express indignation, and an unwillingness to identify enemies — resulting in a tendency toward compromise even at the early stages of controversy.
Without a public, Medicare-like option, health care reform is a bandaid for a system in critical condition. There’s no way to push private insurers to become more efficient and provide better value to Americans without being forced to compete with a public option.